December 24, 2023 - Episode #4919

This episode of Music & the Spoken Word will be a rebroadcast of an episode first broadcasted on December 11, 2022.


Conductor: Mack Wilberg
Organist: Brian Mathias
Special Guests: Bells at Temple Square

“O Come, All Ye Faithful”
Music: John Francis Wade
Lyrics: Frederick Oakeley
Arrangement: Leroy J. Robertson

“O Come, Little Children”
Music: German carol
Lyrics: Christian von Schmid
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

“II est ne, le divin Enfant” (organ solo)
Music: French carol
Arrangement: Brian Mathias

“Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”
Music: Koelner Gesangbuch
Lyrics: Theodore Baker
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

“Ding Dong! Merrily on High”
Music: French carol
Lyrics: George Ratcliffe Woodward
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

“Still, Still, Still”
Music: Austrian carol
Lyrics: David Warner
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

“Here We Come A-Caroling”
Music: Traditional hymn
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

The Spoken Word

Charles Dickens and His Christmas Carol
(Recorded in London, England, Dickens House, June 15, 2022)

By: Lloyd D. Newell

Here inside the Charles Dickens House in London, England, sits a desk that once belonged to the great novelist. It was here that Charles Dickens wrote many of the works that are now considered classics of English literature.

And yet despite great success early in his career, Dickens’s heart was heavy in October 1843. He had just returned to London from a trip to Manchester, where he had spoken at a charity and visited his sister’s family. Dickens felt compassion and concern for his sister’s son Henry, who was struggling with a disability. Dickens had also witnessed horrific poverty on the streets, remembered the poverty of his own childhood, and feared the financial burdens that waited for him at home.[1] With all of this in mind as he returned to London, Dickens put pen to paper and, in his own artistic way, called for reform.

In just six short weeks, A Christmas Carol , one of the most beloved and influential stories of all time, was born. In effect, Dickens’s Christmas story helped revive public sentiment for a holiday that was also suffering under the financial pressures of the time.[2] People received the book with enthusiasm and felt a renewed eagerness to celebrate Christmas after becoming acquainted with its unforgettable characters. Marley personified regret. Scrooge became an emblem of redemption. Tiny Tim, so reminiscent of Dickens’s own nephew, became a symbol of hope. Most important, Dickens’s ghostly tale reminded people to be more charitable, more compassionate, more Christlike at Christmas—and throughout the year.

Dickens’s words capture so well the Christmas spirit: “I have always thought of Christmas time,” he wrote, “… as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people … as if they really were fellow-passengers.”[3]

It seems so appropriate that a tale of redemption and compassion would become a Christmas classic. After all, the baby born in Bethlehem, the Savior of the world, the “author and finisher of our faith; … endured the cross” to give us new life—to “lift up the hands which hang down.”[4] Because of Him, all “fellow-passengers” in this world can find—and offer to others—hope and healing.

[1] See Sarah Kettler, “Charles Dickens Wrote A Christmas Carol in Only Six Weeks,” Biography , Dec. 15, 2020,

[2] See Lucinda Hawksley, “How Did A Christmas Carol Come to Be?,” BBC, Dec. 22, 2017,

[3] Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (1845), 8–9.

[4] Hebrews 12:2, 12